Mass Attack’s season comes to a close in loss to Eagles

By Dan Gigliotti

The Massachusetts hockey team’s season ended last Saturday, March 12 with a 4-2 loss to No. 2 Boston College in the quarterfinal round of the Hockey East Tournament in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

In addition to last Saturday’s loss to the Eagles (30-7-1, 20-6-1 HEA) Friday, the Minutemen (6-23-6, 5-16-6 HEA) fell to BC the preceding night and were eliminated from the tournament in a best-of-three series.

After fighting through the final minutes of the regular season to reach the postseason tournament, UMass coach Don Cahoon believed his players could have competed better, at least in game one.

“It wasn’t BC’s best effort, but we didn’t push back,” said Cahoon in an interview with UMassAthletics.com following the first loss. “We didn’t play hard enough. It wasn’t the playoff-type of competitive spirit that I’m looking for.”

The Eagles went on to win its second-straight Hockey East championship last Saturday night over Merrimack, 5-3 at the TD Banknorth Garden while earning a No.1 seed in the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship. Meanwhile UMass was left to reflect on its 2010-11 season.

The Minutemen lost their first nine games of the season before winning three straight games over Vermont, Quinnipiac and UMass-Lowell from Nov. 23 to Dec. 4.

Five consecutive losses followed before a home-and-home series sweep of the River Hawks on Jan. 14 and 15.

Then, UMass beat Vermont 6-0 on Jan. 22 at Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington for its final win of the season.

The Minutemen looked poised to make the Hockey East tournament after the win, sitting at seventh place in the conference standings with an opportunity to take possession of sixth place with back-to-back wins over Northeastern on Jan. 28 and 29.

But losses to the Huskies sent UMass into a tailspin of 12 consecutive winless games to end the regular season, gaining three total points while nearly falling out of postseason contention.

Nine of the Minutemen’s final 12 games were played against ranked opponents, against which they were 0-16-3 against throughout the entire regular season.

A string of five straight one-goal losses to No. 2 Boston College, No. 6 Merrimack and No. 14 Maine from Feb. 18 to March 4 left UMass fighting for its once-looming playoff hopes in the final game of the season.

The Minutemen, sitting in eighth place in the Hockey East standings, were two points ahead of Providence entering their game against No. 14 Maine on March 5, with the Friars holding the tie-breaker. With Providence leading its game against Merrimack following the second intermission, UMass climbed back from a 3-1 deficit in the third period to take a 4-3 lead – before settling for a 4-4 tie with the Black Bears.

Last Saturday, however, the third period was the Minutemen’s demise. After tying the game at the end of the second period, the Eagles’ Jimmy Hayes scored two goals in the final frame to pull away with a win.

Senior Chase Langeraap scored an unassisted goal 21 seconds into the game to take a 1-0 lead after one period. BC answered back in the second period, when Hayes scored a power-play goal four minutes, 32 seconds into the second frame followed by a Joe Whitney goal to take the lead with 11:08 to go in the period.

Michael Marcou tied the game with 3:17 to go before the second intermission, but the Minutemen could not regain the lead.

Senior Paul Dainton finished with 30 saves in his final game as a member of the Minutemen. It was also the final game for seniors Langeraap, Shawn Saunders, Doug Kublin and Marc Concannon.

Dan Gigliotti can be reached at [email protected].